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Taberna Griega: Authentic Greek Food in Madrid

7 Nov

Looking for authentic Greek food in Madrid? Read on for Spanish Sabores first Restaurant Review!

I love Greek food. Ever since I first visited Greece almost 10 years ago I’ve had difficulty finding a place that could replicate the creamy hummus, garlicky tzatziki, tangy feta, and crunchy baklava I tried on my trip. Not to mention the many other delicacies I sampled that I couldn’t even pronounce, let alone remember the names of! Greece is a food lover’s dream and I hope to make it back there one day soon. Alejandro has never been and I’m dying to re-experience the gorgeous culture, history, and, of course, food together!

When I found out that one of the most recommended restaurants in my new neighborhood Pacífico was Greek, I knew we had to try it. Taberna Griega was pretty highly rated on 11870.com although there weren’t too many reviews to go by.

There is another Taberna Griega in the center of Madrid and it doesn’t seem to be related to this one– so don’t get them confused! 

Taberna Griega

C/Juan de Urbieta, 6

28007 Madrid

91 434 8919

Dine-in, To go, Delivery

Metro: Menendez Pelayo L1, Pacífico L6

The Greece themed restaurant is small and quite informal. It has a narrow bar with a few small tables at the entrance and then an elevated dining room with about seven square tables. It has paper blue and white checkered tablecloths and bright blue paper napkins. I could see this being a casual Friday night out kind of place, or also a great place to have a nice lunch before an afternoon spent in the nearby Retiro Park.

Informal but fun!

We went on a Friday night and made our 10:00 reservation only a few hours beforehand and had no problems. They were, however, completely full all night so I would definitely recommend reserving. People in the bar area were enjoying some delicious looking gyros (kebabs) which is definitely something we’ll be trying the next time.

The menu offers a variety of appetizers, main dishes, raciones (large dishes to share), and desserts. They also have a fixed price menu for 17€ per person. You can order the bar food  (kebabs, pizza, and hamburger) in the dining room if you wish without an up charge.

A glass of crisp Greek white wine

I ordered a glass of Greek white wine and Ale had a beer. We decided to share the Pikilía to start. This was an appetizer made up of four different dips as well as Dolmadakia (stuffed grape leaves). It didn’t specify the dips that were included, but we figured we’d like just about anything.

We were almost right! In addition to the the grape leaves, this enormous appetizer (served with a huge basket of piping hot pita bread) included humus (garbanzo bean puree), melitzanosalata (eggplant puree), taramás (red caviar puree), a block of feta cheese, and tzatziki (greek yogurt, cucumber, and garlic puree). We loved the humus! It was creamy and light and absolutely fantastic. The feta was also amazing. It was better than any I’ve had in a long time. The grape leaves were probably the best I’ve ever tried— the rice inside was perfectly cooked, creamy, and lemony. They also dressed everything with an outstanding olive oil. The tzatziki was very good although it lacked a bit of flavor for me (perhaps even just a little more salt). The eggplant was okay, but it had a very powerful spice that we couldn’t identify. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others. The only dip we didn’t like was the bright pink one– red caviar. It had a very fishy taste and was just unappetizing both visually and taste wise.

The enormous appetizer sampler

Warm Greek pitas

The appetizer was definitely too much for two people and cost 9,80€ + 2,10€ for the pita, so really about 12,00€. This is on the pricy side for an appetizer at such an informal place and more than what any main dish cost. It is also a bit strange that they don’t include the price of the pita in the appetizer since they brought them over automatically and you can’t really eat the dish without them! Overall I’d give the appetizer a 7/10 but recommend it to groups of 4 or more. Next time I’d just get the humus or grape leaves. 

For our main courses we ordered the musakás and bifteki. The musakás (often called Moussaka as well) is a eggplant and ground beef casserole topped with bechamel cream sauce. This one started with a layer of thin sliced potatoes, followed by layers of meat and eggplant, and was finally topped with bechamel and baked in the oven. It was very good, well seasoned, and straightforward. Ale loved it– I thought it was good, but a little boring.

Moussaka!

The bifteki, however, I loved. Described as a ball of ground beef stuffed with feta, it doesn’t sound too fancy– and it’s not! It was basically like a big, juicy homemade hamburger filled with great quality feta cheese and perfectly seasoned. It wasn’t complicated but it was delicious! Ale liked it too (but he preferred the musakás). My favorite quote (his) from the evening: “Es que ultimamente soy más de verduritas” (It’s because lately I’m more of a vegetable person) Hmm… ground beef, potatoes, cream sauce, and a few slices of eggplant– yes Ale, you are certainly a “vegetable person”!

It tastes much better than it looks!

We were stuffed, but I needed to try the baklava. Looking back I wish we’d opted for the sampler (almost the same price and included a variety of pastries and greek yogurt) but at that moment it seemed like too much. The baklava was also a lot — three pieces for only two people! It was very good. Served cold, it was a perfect combination of moist and crunchy, with big chunks of walnut. Ale thought it was the best he’d ever had. I liked it a lot, but I didn’t taste the honey quite as much as I like to. I’d definitely recommend it, however!

Delicious baklava

Overall, Taberna Griega in Madrid is fantastic and reasonably priced. Dinner for two came in at 38,30€ and we had two drinks each (beer and wine). The drawbacks for me were the small dining room, lack of ambience, price of the appetizer, and large portions. But the food, service, and overall price per person are right on! I’d give the place an 8/10 overall and recommend it to everyone living in Madrid looking for authentic Greek food! 

Tapas & Tapapiés: Why Andalucía Has Ruined Me!

31 Oct

I Think I’ve Been Spoiled…

When I first came to Spain back in 2007 I was studying abroad in Granada— you know, that beautiful student paradise where every drink comes with a free tapa. The quality of the free tapa varies a lot, but did I mention that it’s free!? By the time I left Granada I’d tried my share of tapas, and, although there was nothing mind blowing that I recall, I went home happy with plenty of savings still in the bank!

 

Yes, those are tapas!

Hungry in Granada = 3 beers/glasses of wine + 3 free tapas = 6,00€ (como mucho)

A couple of years later I graduated from college and decided to avoid a 9-5 by moving to Seville. At first I was disappointed that this bigger city didn’t offer the same deal as Granada. But it turns out it was better that they didn’t! The lack of free food forced me to choose my tapa and, as a result, I began to truly appreciate Spanish products and Spanish cuisine. The night I met my husband I fell in love—but it wasn’t with him (yet) and rather with Spanish food! That night he introduced me to Iberian pork, fried fish from Cadiz, and the most amazing cold soup I ever imagined. I spent two years in Seville eating out around four times a week. Was I rich? Absolutely not! But the tapas there are often almost the same price as buying the ingredients to cook them at home. Needless to say we took advantage of this.

Galician Style Octopus-- Amazing!

Hungry in Seville = 3 beers/glasses of wine + 2-3 amazing tapas = 7,00€ – 10,00€ (on average)

Now I’m living in Madrid. I can’t say I have ventured out too much—we’ve been busy and cooking mostly at home. But when I have gone out I’ve seen tapas ranging from 3,50€-10,00€ each! And while I’m sure they are great (in one bar I had the most amazing tortilla of my life) the price (that slice of tortilla cost 6,00€!) makes me think twice before ordering them!

Hungry in Madrid = 1 beer/glasses of wine + 1 tapa = what I can afford right now!

Tapapiés

When I heard about one of Madrid’s tapas festivals I was excited to try it out. Tapapiés took place in the Lavapiés neighborhood, a very international barrio close to my house. The participating bars featured one tapa that cost 1,00€ not including any beverage. International tapas? Close to home? 1,00€? It had potential!

Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. I went on a Thursday night with some great company—the husband and two Madrid language assistants/bloggers, Shana and Cassandra. It was great to meet the girls and, lucky for me, they knew the area quite well. We visited 6 of the 31 establishments, and maybe I just had bad luck, but I doubt it.

Why didn’t Tapapiés impress?

Crowds: It was a Thursday night towards the end of the festival. Obviously I expected it to be crowded, and it was. But I didn’t expect some of the bars to be so unorganized and for the waiters to be rude. If ever there was a time to smile it was then—I was assessing these places for future dates, drinks, visitor spots, etc. Not impressed.

Quality: I dream of owning a restaurant. I love working in them, eating in them, reading about them… If I had a restaurant I would use a festival like Tapapiés to really shine. I would present something well executed and creative. I would showcase the best my staff could do, hoping to attract more business. I don’t think these places had that kind of mentality. The majority of the tapas were boring and basic. Many were poorly executed—cold when they should’ve been hot, lacking salt, super greasy… They didn’t take advantage of this opportunity and that makes me sad!

Price: 1,00€ tapas sound pretty cheap but they were all as tiny as a tapa could be. I normally eat 3 tapas when I’m really hungry and here I ate 6! Add that 6,00€ to the 3 glasses of wine I drank at around 2,20-2,50 each (and I always ordered the house wine) and it comes to a not so cheap dinner of about 13,00€.

Conclusions

Once again Spanish businesses have proven to me that they don’t care enough about attracting new clients and being even the least bit creative. I hope (for the sake of this economy) that people wake up and start being a little bit competitive. Raise the damn bar already!!! (If anyone wants to loan me 1 million euro I’ll open an awesome business here, I promise you!)

 Photos

Please excuse their quality!

a)     I’m learning… it’s slow progress but I enjoy it!

b)    Lighting?! How on earth do people take good food photos at night!!!???

If anyone has any photography advice please leave it in the comments; I’d really appreciate it!

And if you went to the festival what did you think? Am I just being spoiled? Let me know!

La Otra Casa: Doblez de Berenjena-- Not a bad try (one of the best of the night in fact) but definitely bite sized and swimming in grease!

 

It was filled with ground beef, eggplant, and onion.

 

Lo Máximo: Chile Con Carne-- Why did we try a "Mexican" place? I don't know. I could make better chile in my sleep! It was bland, boring, NOT spicy, and not quite hot enough...

 

The bar at Lo Máximo was nice enough to give another shot... for a beer!

La Inquilina: Papas Con Mojo-- This place was packed and had a cute atmosphere. Ale made fun of us for wanted to try such a "basic tapa" but I know that when done right this can be delicious. Mojo is like a beautiful homemade barbeque sauce and over potatoes it's delicious. Unfortunately served cold it's kind of gross...

La Inquilina did have a cool wine boat!

The cold papas... 😦

Eucalipto: Dos Quesos Con Piña-- Everyone knows I love goat cheese served almost any way... but with canned pineapple on soggy bread it wasn't quite appealing. Unfortunate because the bar was cute.

Yum, soggy bread!

Automático: Salmorejo con Bacalao... wait, where's the bacalao?! -- Good... but why wasn't there any bacalao? I came to try something new!

 

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